‘Theresa May should stop “obsessing” about grammar schools and order a massive expansion of vocational education to address skills shortages that will worsen after Brexit, England’s chief inspector of schools says.
In a blistering attack on the prime minister’s priorities for education, Sir Michael Wilshaw, the head of Ofsted, says more grammar schools will “reduce standards for the great majority of children”, undo much of the progress of recent years, and be socially divisive.
Condemning the policy, reiterated by the prime minister at the Tory conference a fortnight ago, as a retrograde step, he says ministers should focus instead on promoting specialist, technical subjects in schools, and new technology colleges for 14-19-year-olds, so future generations have the skills necessary to drive the post-Brexit economy.
“If you’re going to make a success of Brexit, this is number one. It should be the number one government priority – not grammar schools,” he says in an interview with the Observer.
Wilshaw, who retires at the end of December after completing his five-year term, also turns May’s claim to want to govern for the “many, not the privileged few” against her.
“I came into teaching and I came into this job to raise standards for all children, not just for the few. And by their very nature grammar schools are for the few – otherwise why have them?” He says he is not “sitting on the fence on this one” but will speak out in the strongest way against a policy shift that will harm not only the education of young people but society too.
“It will actually lower standards for the great majority of children. That is my view. And it is socially divisive as well.”' - The Guardian
‘The Government insists Britain already has a 'postcode lottery', with richer parents moving to areas with better comprehensives.
Mrs May has also stressed that new grammars will have to show they are 'genuinely reaching out' to poorer pupils and that education is 'not going back to the 1950s'.
But Sir Wilshaw said: 'If you're taking away the best kids from the comprehensive system, you're creating, by another name, secondary moderns. People will know that the brightest children, the most academic children, are not going there.'
He added that grammars would inevitably make it more difficult to attract the brightest teachers to non-selective schools.
Several Tory MPs including former education secretary Nicky Morgan and Commons Education Committee chair Neil Carmichael oppose Mrs May's plan for new selective schools.’ - Daily Mail